Molly Schwartz creatingMeet FITC featured speaker
Molly Schwartz

Molly Schwartz’ professional and artistic work combine technology, art and a love of drawing. She creates immersive expeditions—informal narratives traveling through aerial, arboreal and aquatic worlds of curious perspective. Molly shows her animated videos, drawings, and interactive works in public art installations, exhibitions and festivals worldwide. She also freelances in animation and design for documentary films and other independent projects.

Molly will be presenting Sorting, Submarines and Stories at FITC Toronto April 27-29, 2014. Thanks for taking a few moments to answer some questions for us, Molly!

1) Tell us about your early beginnings, how did you get your start? 

I studied Painting as an undergrad at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago. After school, I trained in traditional Paper Conservation and Restoration, working with originals ranging from Picasso, to rare Michelangelo prints, Audubons and Whistlers. I then moved to LA, intending to work as a digital matte painter, although I was not quite sure what that was, but it sounded about right. I went on a tour of a special effects studio in Burbank and whispered to the one of the interns, What program are you using? She said, After Effects. I borrowed an old Mac from a friend (I was a PC person) and a copy of Classroom in a Book and spent a weekend learning AE 3.1. I went back in on Monday morning (having talked my way into an internship based on my restoration color and precision skills) to find myself learning special effects and compositing for truly awful SciFi TV shows… which I just loved.

Two years later, I moved to New York and began freelancing in design and animation, originally for television, but now almost all of my freelance work is for documentary film and other independent projects. In 2009 I took an art break from freelancing and went back to grad school, at NYU's ITP (Interactive Telecommunications Program), to study physical computing and visual programming. All along the way, I've continued to show and develop my art, conceptually and technically: painting, drawing, animation, projection, coding, sculpture, and interactive installations. I go back and forth between freelance and art, and enjoy both immensely.

2) Can you share with us your latest project? 

Art work: Captain Ever's Substation. An interactive installation: A ship's wheel sits in front of a large porthole window, filled with an animated scene of underwater mountains in subterranean low light. A rumble sounds in the distance. Spinning the wheel turns the landscape, revealing entrenched habitats, winged submarines, lantern boats, sea monsters and machinery intertwined. Everything moves in an unhurried manner, shimmering and flickering, trailing in the current. A farrago of characters, representing confidence, mischievousness, silence, fear, concentration. Messengers and rogues.

Freelance work: I was the lead animator and designer, working with a very talented, independent team, for Watchers of the Sky. A very moving film directed by Edet Belzberg, documenting the lives of four exceptional humanitarians, intertwined with the story of Raphael Lemkin, the legendary international lawyer who dedicated his life to the prevention of genocide. The film premiered at the Sundance Festival this January and was awarded a Special Jury Prize for Animation.

3) Within your Industry, is there someone that inspires you?

Everyone I went to grad school with – ITP is an amazing program and I was lucky to be in a class full of incredibly hard working and creative people, who constantly impress and inspire me.

4) Do you have any future projects lined up, and can you share them with us?

I'm collaborating with friends on a series of interactive stories, each taking place in a wee animated world, intended for multiple outputs: tablets, online and physical installations.

Molly Schwartz respirator5) Favourite cartoon character or superhero, and why? 

Aquaman (see next question).

6) If you had one superpower (or wish), what would it be? be able to swim endlessly underwater and explore the deep!

7) If you weren't doing what you are now, what would we find you up to? 

First I'd be a Surgeon, then a Research Submarine Captain, followed by hanging out in a barn, making paintings and throwing bowls on a wheel.

Thanks, Molly. Can't wait for your presentation at FITC Toronto 2014!